What’s the one thing that leaders and teams want right now more than anything else? It was confirmed to me again recently during a distance learning webinar that we presented for over 100 participants.
I asked the following question, “From a professional perspective when reflecting on the last few weeks, what has been your biggest challenge, concern, or need?”
There were several multiple-choice responses:
- Disappointed in leadership
- Concerned about my career
- Fearful that teamwork will be undermined
- Lack of communications and don’t know what’s really happening
- Camaraderie—missing the interaction with my buddies and friends
Those are all important, but the one that jumped way out front, doubling the response of the second highest was “Camaraderie—missing the interaction with my buddies and friends”.
Insights on Team Isolation
If you are leading a team that is isolated and remote, this can be a great nugget of insight on the importance of camaraderie. The general definition is “mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together.” The expression “mutual trust” and time together are key to this definition, and I would add one more, “shared experiences.”
We have two helpful takeaways that we can learn. First is the importance of camaraderie and identifying ways to stay connected while operating remotely. The second is to make a note in our leadership journals, reminding us of the importance and value of building cohesion and trust through shared experiences during times when things are more normal and operating well.
In this month’s Leading with Honor Coaching video, I explain how we developed camaraderie in the Vietnam POW camps, and how it relates to us today – please watch:
Behavior and Connection
Camaraderie is about relationships and connections. If your natural behavior tilts toward being outgoing/extroverted, this is generally easy for you. But there’s a struggle in potentially making it too much about yourself and what is on your mind and heart. If your natural behavior tilts toward being reserved/introverted, connecting can be difficult—even in the normal workplace. So, authentically connecting with someone in an uplifting way can be a challenge for everyone.
Camaraderie is really a bond that is formed by a connection of hearts. Every human being wants to be connected to someone who values and appreciates them. [Tweet This]
That’s why we have friends with whom we spend time together that builds mutual trust and shared experiences. These are the people in our lives who care about us and whom we care about. When you consider we spend more awake time with our peers at work than with our families, it should be obvious that those work relationships are especially important to our own identity.
The C.A.R.E Approach
For us to improve our camaraderie leadership skills—especially as we work remotely—let’s adopt “The C.A.R.E. Approach” [Tweet This] –
- Connect and communicate. Connect with the heart- not just the head. Be intentional to reach out and communicate with an attitude and persona of enthusiasm, caring concern and support.
- Affirm. Find something positive about the person that you have experienced and call it out. Set aside perfection and look for something such as unique talents, smiles, good words, timely responses, character, team contributions, etc. Spend a moment to come up with something specific and genuine.
- Regard. This is somewhat subtle but extremely powerful. Make your attitude and countenance reflect a high regard for the person. Regard is about esteem and that is best communicated from a cognitive base, that is wrapped in warm emotions. For some this will be a stretch, but it may be the greatest gift you could give someone who is isolated and struggling with their self-image, lacking confidence, and insecure. The effort can pay huge dividends.
- Encourage. What can you say to inspire, cheer, reassure, or boost this person? How can you let them know how valuable they are as a person, friend, teammate?
More Important Now Than Ever
The C.A.R.E. Approach described above can provide some of the positive energy of camaraderie that we are missing in this time of working remotely—physically isolated from our teammates. It may sound simple, but it’s going to take intentional effort for most of us.
But if you will pause for a moment and recall a time when someone CARED about you by connecting, affirming, regarding, and encouraging you, you will know how powerful it can be. This is your chance to make a difference by caring about someone else. Make it happen and you can change someone’s world.
We invite you to share your experience of working remotely, camaraderie, and being cared for. Please post your comments.
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